No matter what anyone tells you, Ivica Zubac was a significant reason why the LA Clippers made the playoffs.
One week ago, Magic Johnson went on First Take and justified his reasoning for trading Ivica Zubac to the LA Clippers. It was a move that stumped everyone around the league, including Laker fans, but Johnson stuck by it. Part of his reasoning was the fact that Zubac didn’t play during the playoffs.
“Give me some numbers for him at the Clippers... He didn’t even play during the Golden State series.” - Magic Johnson
Here was the full exchange between Magic and Stephen A that touched on Magic taking the blame for not re-signing Lopez, and him defending the choices on Randle and Zubac. pic.twitter.com/EOJHx9ZpzX— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 20, 2019
Yes, Ivica Zubac did not really play during the playoffs; match ups exist, and Zubac simply didn’t fit during the match up. Despite the limited playing time, the 22 year old was a big reason why the Clippers were even in the postseason.
If we’re judging Zubac’s numbers during the regular season, he averaged: 9.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, and shot 53% from the field, all in 20 MPG. He averaged career highs across the board, and it’s because he was given the opportunity to do so; it’s not because of LeBron James or Lonzo Ball. He made an immediate impact in his first game with the Clippers, putting up 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Similarlly to Montrezl Harrell, all it takes is opportunity for a young player to show what he’s capable of, and Zubac has never averaged more than 16 MPG prior to his Clipper tenure.
A Deeper Dive
In the 26 games that Zubac played for the Clippers, he had 12 games of 10+ points, 5 games of 10+ rebounds, and 4 double-doubles. Of those 26 games, in 15 of them he was a positive in the +/-, and a negative in just 8. The Clippers; best stretch of the entire season came in the month of March, when the team went 13-4 with Zubac in the starting line up. The Lakers went 3-14 in that same stretch.
If the playoffs were the destination and the regular season was the journey, make no mistake, Zubac was a significant reason why the Clippers made their destination. Sometimes you need to focus on the journey to understand how you made the destination.
How do you view Magic Johnson’s comments about Ivica Zubac?